Seattle police searching for light rail attacker

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by JAKE WHITTENBERG / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @jakewhittenberg

KING5.com

Posted on March 21, 2014 at 6:17 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 21 at 8:08 PM

A Seattle University law student is recovering with a broken jaw after he was attacked on a light rail train Thursday night.

He was sucker punched by an unruly passenger after he tried to protect a family being harassed.

Daniel Villarreal and his girlfriend from Sweden were on their way home from Sea-Tac Airport when he says a group of five or six men boarded the train. A few of the men were smoking.

Villarreal felt they were all being aggressive toward another passenger and his wife after they asked the group not to smoke on the train. Villarreal tried to get the men to calm down, but they turned aggressive toward him.

Villarreal said out of nowhere, one of the men sucker punched him, instantly breaking his jaw. There was a scuffle and one of the men tried to steal Villarreal’s girlfriend’s bag.

When they got to the Columbia City station, the men gave up and wandered off. Villarreal had to be taken away by ambulance from the train station.

As a law student focusing on human rights issues, Villarreal says all he was trying to do was keep the peace.

“I just felt like I couldn’t watch someone get harassed like that, particularly with a baby. She had a baby strapped to her chest and I just thought someone had to say something. Someone’s gotta help out,” said Villarreal.

Villarreal gave police a description of the suspects and the King County Sheriff’s Office is reviewing surveillance video. He’s helping police with a sketch of the suspect, but says he’s not optimistic his attacker will be caught.

Villarreal says he’s disappointed because of the lack of response from the train’s operator.

KING 5 talked with Sound Transit, who said someone pressed the ‘red alert’ button in the train car that is an intercom system. The conductor heard screaming and immediately called police for help. Sound Transit says the operator followed protocol.

 

KING 5's Liza Javier contributed to this report.

 

 

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